Schools throughout Butler County are among the 170 schools that are displaying a new Flinthills map, showing students just where it is they live, and where the Tall Grass Prairie is located.
The latest map was dedicated at Flinthills Primary School in Cassoday recently, at which time a major donor for the Butler County schools, Phillips 66, was recognized.
“The idea is too many children who grow up in the Flint Hills, grow up believing they are from no where,” said Emily Connell, who is part of the program.
She said the goal was to be in 150 schools in the Flint Hills and they are close to 170. When they get in the Oklahoma schools in the region they will be close to 180 schools.
Connell said 97 percent of the districts are participating and they have raised more than a quarter million dollars for this.
The whole idea behind the map is place-based education. It includes not only a map of the Flint Hills but also the Tall Grass Prairie and information about the area on each of the maps, with different maps created for elementary, middle school and high school/college levels. This is the first time a map has shown the remaining native tall grass prairie. Ninety-six percent of it has been plowed and developed, making the tall grass prairie the most altered ecosystem there is.
In addition to the map, there also is a Web site that offers 250 lessons to grin the Flint Hills experience into the classroom and get students out on the prairie.
The project recently received a $57,000 grant from Phillips 66, which was applied for by Gordon Stands.
“We were thrilled to get this opportunity,” he said. “We thought this was a really good fit.”
“It is a visual representation of our place in the world,” said Jeremy Boldra, Flinthills superintendent, during the ceremony.
They then dedicated the map to the children in USD 492.
“It is important to realize all of the Butler schools were funded through Phillips,” Connell said. “All of this is because of Phillips. It’s huge to have a corporation like Phillips step forward.”
Also was in attendance was Annie Wilson, program coordinator.
“You can have an idea but it takes a very special kind of energy and a very special kind of focus to bring that idea to earth and make it happen,” Connell said. “Annie is the person who made this happen.”
Another major sponsor was the Carolyn S. Kruse Foundation in memory of Carolyn and Warren Kruse, part of the Cathy & Jim Hoy family with deep Cassoday roots.
All of the Keystone sponsors include: Phillips 66, Lewis H. Humphreys Charitable Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, Dwane L. and Velma Lunt Wallace Charitable Foundation, Horizon Ranch in memory of Bob Krause, Scott & Carol Ritchie of Highland Ranch, Rich & Sarah Porter of Porter Cattle Co, The Westar Foundation and Westar Green Team, Butler Community College, Gina Miller of the Mashed O Ranch, Steve & Tracey Graham of Capstone Insurance, Inc., Arora Perrier Fund of the Babson Foundation, Paula K. Varner in memory of Sterling V. Varner, Bob & Martha Buford, Flint Hills Land & Cattle Company, Tom & Myra Devlin Family, Cargill, and The Nature Conservancy.
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BCtimesgazette